Holiday reading to leave you enriched
Before we get into the detail of the article, I really want to thank the team here for letting me post here with them. It means a lot to be able to get something published for my Wedding website at a great site like this.
Gone are the days when going on holiday meant turning a blind eye to your finances. These days it’s easy to manage your money from your sunlounger, and if you prefer to keep track of your incomings and outgoings just a stone’s throw from the pool there is a huge range of apps and ebooks to help, from day-to-day money management to check your central heating system to keep on top of exchange rates. Here are some of the best.
1 OnTrees website and app (free)
If you’re looking for somewhere to keep track of your finances in a simple, sustainable way, OnTrees may well be the answer.
Just enter the details of your current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards and OnTrees will sync them so you don’t have to keep accessing each one individually.
The app will also update your transactions overnight, dividing them into categories such as rent, travel and food, so that you can see where your money is going.
If you’re concerned about data security, it is worth knowing that their third-party partner is a financial services data expert, in addition to which the site and app being “read-only”, which means that nobody can use OnTrees to move money around.
2 Your Wealth website and app (free)
For something with just a little more reach, try Your Wealth, which offers the Money Hub, a money management section similar to OnTrees, as well as details about your investments elsewhere and a tax, mortgage and pension calculator to give projections of — and advice on — your possible future wealth.
3 Retiready website (free)
With so many more options now on offer when planning for retirement it’s more important than ever to start working things out early. Aegon UK recently launched Retiready, a digital service that helps you keep track of your savings and determines your readiness for retirement by giving you a score out of 100. If you’re not on track, Retiready provides advice and tools to reorganise your funds to improve your score. The service also offers access to a Retiready Pension and Isa, but you can use the app to keep track of other pension providers too.
4 XE Currency website and app (free)
It’s free, it’s one of the best and it uses live currency rates so it’s as accurate as you’re going to get when it comes to exchanging rates. No surprise that it’s been downloaded more than five million times.
5 Tado app (free app but the home system costs extra)
Control your home’s heating on the move with Tado, which uses the GPS inside your smartphone to track your location and activate or turn down the temperature depending on how far away you are from your home. The technology also features a thermostat, adjusting the temperature according to how warm it is outside and online weather forecast predictions.
Tado’s creators claim that it could save the average user around £180 a year, but you have to pay — either an upfront fee of £249 or a monthly rental of £6.99, but if you have not saved more than £120 of energy in the first year Tado will refund the rental costs.
6 Toshl Finance website and app (free)
Toshl is an expense and budget tracker that is particularly good for travellers, as it works with any currency and lets you separate your overall travel budget from your everyday spending. There are bill reminders and you can set up repeat expenses. It also syncs across multiple devices.
7 Easy Books app (free)
Anyone who has ever been self-employed or has run their own small business knows that going on holiday can be more fraught than it is relaxing if you don’t have an easy way of keeping an eye on how things are going back home. Easy Books is a well-presented book-keeping app that will show you profit and loss estimates, balance sheets, audits, VAT returns and cashflow statements at the touch of a button.
8 Trail Wallet App (free)
This app is perfect for longer adventures. You can use it to set daily and monthly budgets for single or multiple trips, specifying different currencies for each one and dividing expenditures into different categories such as accommodation and food. There’s even a section for “bribes” — which, one hopes, would be used infrequently.
9 Bloomberg website and app (free)
Whether you are an amateur investor or a pro, Bloomberg is a godsend for those who want to keep an eye on the markets even when they’re on holiday. The iPad model is particularly good, as the larger interface allows you to pull up a huge amount of data, tracking the indexes, currencies and companies you care about with ease, as well as your personal portfolio.
10 30-Day Money Plan Ebook (£1.99)
If you’re looking for a little light beach reading this isn’t it; on the other hand, if you want to come back from your holiday with a plan in place to overhaul your finances then this is on the money. Its author, Damien Fahy, founded MoneytotheMasses.com, a website offering money-saving tips to consumers, and this book offers advice in a similar bite-sized format. Download from amazon.co.uk before you go and you could come back with a fresh understanding of the basics — mortgages, pensions, taxes and so on — as well as a new attitude to call centres (phone them for free and avoid the queues).
When local is best
The pound may have strengthened by more than ten per cent against the euro in the past 12 months but that won’t be much use to you if you get caught out by Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) — an “optional” service at some retailers and ATMs abroad where they offer you the chance to pay in sterling rather than the local currency.
Although this may seem like a sensible option given the favourable exchange rate for Brits this summer, this nifty little trick means that the retailer gets to determine the exchange rate used in the transaction. DCC can inflate costs by up to five per cent, leaving you paying much more than if you had paid in euros — or whatever the local currency is.
Sometimes you won’t even be given the option to pay in local currency — and the first time you will notice the high charges is when you get your bank statement, so it pays to be on your guard and check the currency and the amount at the point of sale.
There is nothing illegal about DCC, but the problem has become so widespread that earlier this year Nationwide advised Britons heading abroad to brush up on their local language skills and learn how to say: “I want to pay in the local currency, please.” So, that’s: “Puedo pagar con divisa local, por favor?”in Spanish and “Je voudrais payer en devises du pays, s’il vous plait,” in French.